If you know the name Devin Williams
, chances are, it's because you're a rocker. One of the preeminent independent Christian rock acts out there, Williams has toured the country delivering blistering distortion, crazy riffs and--of course--the gospel message.
Something you may not know about Williams is that he's been a worship leader since 2000. It was only a matter of time before worship--a huge part of his personal ministry--found its way onto a record.
In a time when many rock acts are abandoning their musical roots to experiment in more popular genres of music (pop, electronic), Williams approaches his newest project, We Are Forever Yours
, as an inspired, temporary departure from the typical rock fare so he can share some of the songs he's been writing for worship gatherings.
I asked Williams some questions about this newly revealed side of his musical expression.
You've been known for a while as an independent Christian rocker. What's the state of Christian rock right now?
This is a tough question, and one that we could spend hours talking about! It hurts my heart but it seems the genre of Christian rock has been struggling for many years now. Maybe 10 years ago, Christian rock had some amazing bands that had support from their record labels and they were playing large tours.
The bands that were once hailed as Christian rock have changed their style to match the new electro-pop/synth music that is currently being pushed by the labels. Even the Christian rock radio charts are filled with rap, pop, and soft worship songs. I truly believe that the fans want to hear more actual Christian rock and it will gain momentum again. Hopefully, it happens soon, because I love creating and writing songs for Jesus that rock!
You've taken a different approach with this new project. You describe it as more of a worship release. Talk about what's been going on in your heart and life to make this shift.
Worship music has always been a major part of my life and musical journey. I've been leading worship at churches since I was 17 and I've been writing worship music all along. I love sharing the gospel through rock music, and I've been able to record several albums with that goal in mind. I was praying about the current project and felt the Holy Spirit was leading me to record some of the worship songs I had been working on. These songs were written with a focus on encouraging the Church and to share some of the prayers I've sang in my heart when my faith was weak.
How has your songwriting had to shift in this new season?
When I began writing the songs for this project, I pictured the people at my church being able to sing along and also the church musicians being able to play the music. With rock music, I usually focus on unique and sometimes difficult guitar riffs with more of a parable type of storytelling to share the gospel.
I spent several months playing songs through several hymnals and listening to the melodies to get a better sense of the foundations of church music. Several years ago, I decided that life is too short to only play one genre of music! Since then, I've released a Christmas song, a pop song, and now a worship project! I guess shifting styles is part of being a songwriter.
What are some things that have been going on in your life and in your walk with Christ that have really inspired the new record?
A little over three years ago I took a position as a worship leader and felt the Holy Spirit leading me to record a worship album that my church would enjoy and that perhaps other churches would like to sing for their congregations as well. Although I prefer guitar driven songs and music, I felt in my heart it was time to record the worship songs and ideas I'd been writing for many years. Worship music can be very powerful when God's people worship together!
Talk a little bit about your lead single, "Hear Our Hearts Sing," and its meaning... and why you decided to lead with that song.
"Hear Our Hearts Sing" is a song that took me several years to finish. I began writing it and completed the first verse and chorus; however, at that time I was focusing on the rock album I was working on. I saved the idea and when I started working on this worship project, the song came back to me and I was able to finish it.
The Bible tells us that God hears the cries of His children and responds with love and compassion. The song celebrates that fact and that in His presence is where we can find peace and true joy.
Besides music, what else has been happening in your life? Work life? Church life? Family life?
Life has been so busy the last few years. I juggle church work and my band on top of family stuff, like sports and just finding time to go grocery shopping! It's funny, because years ago I set out to only play music for a living. I quickly realized that very few artists get that opportunity and it's even more difficult for those in Christian rock. I would guess that some of the artists you see in the Top 10 Christian rock bands also work regular jobs to help cover bills.
But God is so faithful and cares for us in everything we do. I have three wonderful sons and they are awesome! They drive my wife and I crazy! I'm really excited about watching my three year old play his first season of soccer this fall. He will be so cute running around out there chasing bugs and kicking the ball every now and then.
You've had a heart for outreach, whether it be singing at the fair in Tennessee or at a children's hospital. What have been some of your more memorable interactions in those nontraditional venues?
I am always excited to share my music and faith in any venue that God provides. Many times people have come up after our show and ask us if we are a Christian band and that opens a door to share the gospel. One time a guy came up to me and said that he was glad I was there and that my music reminded him that he shouldn't be at the bar and should be getting back into church.
I played at a vape shop in Clarksville, Tennessee once a month for about six months and a guy, about 22 years old, came up and talked to me. There were about six other young men with him and he said he was their captain and they were getting ready be deployed back to the Middle East. Some had already completed several tours and they were ready to be shipped out again. He said that he was very thankful for my music and that he and his team needed the positive message of faith and peace they heard through my rock songs.
When playing in these types of venues, sometimes we get to play music for people who haven't been to church in a very long time or perhaps they have never been. Many times they have a cynical view of the Church and playing a song that tells a story, much like the parables of Jesus, we can share our faith with those who may not hear the gospel any other way.
What inspires you the most musically, spiritually and lyrically these days?
I find my inspiration in the Bible, the news, my family, and a few artists out there making creative music. When I spend time with my instrument and playing with sounds and riffs, that's when I create and get my inspiration to write.
What gets you excited?
I get excited every time I have a concert, whether it's for five people or 10,000! Going to Disney World with my wife and sons is exciting too! I am planning another tour in Sicily, and my booking agent there is working out the dates and events.
What's next for you? Touring? One offs? Onto the next project?
I would love to get out and do some touring to promote the new album and I know that I have some fans across the country that would love for me to visit their city but being an independent artist makes it very tough to tour. Usually there is no funding and not enough demand to have a six-to-eight week long tour. So for now I'm planning a few one-off shows to promote the album and I'm praying for more opportunities to hit the road and share the new songs.
I will be writing as much as possible because I feel like I have thousands of songs inside my spirit and I need to get them out! Right now I am writing songs for the next rock album that I plan on releasing sometime next year.
How can people be praying?
Please pray for God's perfect will in in both your life and for mine and my family. God knows us better than we know ourselves and sometimes what we think we want, isn't what will truly satisfy us. Pray for my son Jace and his heart condition. He has a congenital heart defect and is doing fine now but will have to have a surgery in the future. We are praying for God to do a miracle in his body and heal him completely.